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I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President Hardcover – October 13, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–9—Lieb's first novel is a comedy/sci-fi fantasy about Oliver Watson, an overweight 12-year-old from Omaha, NE, who fools his family and classmates into thinking that he is slow-witted when in fact he is the world's third-richest person. He overthrows foreign dictators, owns corporations, is a successful inventor and investor, and is on the way to attaining his goal of world domination. This evil supergenius, who makes Artemis Fowl look ready for sainthood, has the appeal of a cartoon villain. His father and arch nemesis is too involved in running a local PBS affiliate and too uninvolved in his son. What Oliver really wants is his dad's approval and attention. He decides that the way to get this is to win the election for president of the eighth-grade class at Gale Sayers Middle School. Lieb perfectly captures the wise-guy sarcasm and trash mouth of a seventh-grade evil genius. Readers will love the sci-fi/fantasy touches, from Oliver's elaborate underground lair to the transmitter implanted in his jaw and his installing root beer and chocolate milk at the school's water fountain (of course, only he knows how to make it work). The format—short blurbs of text interspersed with humorous black-and-white photos—will appeal to reluctant readers. Although the book has as little subtlety as its title, certainly the theme of a boy wanting his father's love is a universal one. This is a book kids will be talking about.—Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME END

Review

"If War and Peace had a baby with The Breakfast Club and then left the baby to be raised by wolves, this book would be the result. I loved it." – Jon Stewart

“Josh Lieb is on one of the great brave journeys in American literature. Or maybe he just signed my name to a blurb he wrote. Either way, you have to admit he’s brave. And the book is hilarious.” – Judd Apatow

“Pitch perfect…Every kid who’s ever felt put upon, misunderstood, and, let’s admit it, infinitely superior to his or her peers will laugh out loud as they enter Oliver’s hilarious secret world…” – BCCB, starred review

"Lieb perfectly captures the wise-guy sarcasm and trash mouth of a seventh-grade evil genius...This is a book kids will be talking about." – School Library Journal

"Similar to Artemis Fowl but without the supernatural element, Lieb's creative and twisted first novel gets a positive vote." – Kirkus

“Beware, kids: Once your parents pick it up, they won’t be able to put it down. (Guilty as charged.)” – New York Post

“Walter Mitty for teenagers, especially those who do not fit in. They will become huge fans of this book.” – VOYA

“Josh Lieb has set literature back a hundred years.” – Daniel Pinkwater
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 780L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595142401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595142405
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
There aren't many books for middle schoolers out there that sport blurbs from folks like Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow. There is, in fact, only one. Which means that we're talking about a book written for kids that is hoping to reach those out there who enjoy watching The Daily Show on DVR and Superbad on DVD. Probably boys. Adolescent, definitely. And no wonder, since the author (Josh Lieb) actually is a head writer on The Daily Show and everything. But since I (A) like boy books and (B) was a huge fan of the similarly plotted "Evil Genius" by Catherine Jinks I figured I had a chance at liking this one. And I did. Quite a bit. The book is the ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy of any child more intelligent than their cruel classmates. Lieb does a masterful job at tapping into the humor and hatred that seethes beneath the surface of every seventh grade boy. The ending leaves something to be desired, but on the whole the book is a hoot and for a certain kind of kid it's hugely entertaining.

If you encountered Oliver Watson in school you'd probably think he was the biggest dumbest dork on the planet. All his fellow classmates feel that way, and his parents don't think he's all that bright either. Get to know him a little better, however, and you'd better hope he's taken a shine to you. Oliver isn't just a genius. He's a supergenius, multi-billionaire, using his current state as a middle school "slow" chubby kid as the perfect front.
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Format: Hardcover
A funny and smart portrait of both Evil Geniusdom and life in middle school. A fun read with a sharp eye, and with genuine insight into growing up, and how hard it is for parents and children to understand each other. I read it in one weekend and would recommend it to anyone -- adult or child.
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Format: Paperback
I love good comic fiction (to me the gold standard is P.G. Wodehouse), which often leads to hopefully picking up books like this and reading them. It's not often you see a book blurbed by Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow, so it seemed worth a gamble. The story takes the student council election shenanigans of Tom Perrota's excellent Election, and tries to amplify the comedy by moving things down to middle school and making the tubby 7th-grade protagonist a literal evil genius, complete with underground lair, secret minions, and ferocious dog. It's not a bad premise, after all, it's generally comic gold to have a main character be a kid who acts as an adult, more so if they're up to no good.

However, the comic antics here just aren't that sharp or funny. I think part of the problem is that the writing is so choppy, as everything comes at you in a rat-a-tat-tat delivery with a line break seemingly between almost every sentence. It sits on the page more like a sketch comedy script or series of punchlines than actual narrative prose (and it also means the book can be easily read in under two hours). Plenty of bits and pieces are amusing, such as his messing with the English teacher by having insults printed on cigarettes that the teacher discovers in unopened packs, or his retrofitting of the school with a secret room complete with on-call butler, or his interactions with the Warren Buffett-like figurehead for his evil empire (the book is set in Omaha).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just love, love, love and adore this book! Do you have middle school kids or grandkids who don't really like to read? Kids who act like it's the worst chore ever to have to read a book? Kids who'd rather have hot wax poured all over their bodies than be forced to read? Well, THIS is the perfect book for those kids! With the slightest bit of encouragement, they actually *will* read this book and like it. Wait! Did I say, "like"? No, they will love this book. It also makes a marvelous present for all of the adult readers you might know who aren't so snobby that all they can allow themselves to read is Dostoyevski novels, Harold Pinter plays, or Ted Hughes' poetry.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My 10-year-old son is dyslexic so he listens to a lot of audiobooks. This book was a long road-trip favorite, he listened to it once on his own with headphones and enjoyed it so much he wanted to listen to it over the car's audio so that I could enjoy it, too. He and I both enjoyed the book and I'm hopeful this turns into a (at least short) series.

This book was a little too old for my son's age (4th grade), but he's knows the difference between laughing about something that would be considered bad form in real life. So I wasn't too concerned. The only thing that stuck out of me was the usage of the word "slut" while describing another student. However, it did open a discussion between my son and I.
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